Georgetown U. students clash with neighbors

Growing tensions between Georgetown University students and neighborhood residents recently hit the roof as leaders of the Citizens Association of Georgetown encouraged area residents to videotape students' disruptive behavior.

At a meeting of the Alliance for Local Living last month, association leaders said that concerned residents could film students' misconduct and send tapes to University officials, local media or the Metropolitan Police Department so that legal measures could be taken against the students.

So far neighbors have not taken an active role in recording students' activities.

However, several residents favor this measure because they say some students often don't respect the neighborhood they live in. They also say that the videotaping will not be exclusively of students, but of any disruptive behavior in the neighborhood.

Michael Glick, a commissioner on Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, the D.C. neighborhood governing body that includes Georgetown's campus, said that the disagreement between area residents and students is an old problem. He cites issues such as house parties, noises at night and trash as the core of the conflict.

"We have had growing tensions between neighbors and students, but I believe these tensions should be solved in a friendly manner," Glick said. "[Videotaping will] increase animosity between neighbors and students. It will make matters worse."

At the meeting, association leaders said the use of video cameras to record incidents in their community is a choice that could be taken to prevent disorder and maintain safety, according to Georgetown's student newspaper, The Hoya. MPD said that videotaping is legal in public places and that there is no reason why residents can't videotape.

Members of the neighborhood association were unavailable for comment.

Some students are disappointed with group's initiative. Brian Morgenstern, president of the Georgetown University Student Association, said that videotaping students is not an adequate step toward better relations between students and neighbors.

"This is taking it too far," Morgenstern said. "It would be exploiting some of our students with the purpose to embarrass the entire University."

Many students have taken an active role against the association's suggestion. Many have sent letters and e-mails to group leaders to protest.

Morgenstern, who called the proposal an "intrusive" act, said students are organizing against it. He said that the University should take a greater role in the issue if citizens start filming students, but so far this has not happened.

Glick, a junior who has taken an active role in the campaign against the proposal, said he realizes that videotaping in public places in legal and that the University can't do much to stop residents from doing it. However, he said, "We can convince people that this is not the right way to handle the problem."

Glick believes that the students' behavior will not change simply because residents have decided to videotape them. He thinks that a better approach to the problem is informing students about how to deal with clashes in their neighborhoods.

The use of video cameras in areas around colleges is not new in the region.

In 1999, residents in the Catholic University neighborhood used cameras to record unruly students and then handed the tapes to police. Three years ago police used videotapes and pictures to take legal actions against some students after riots at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.